Iowa State’s Air Force ROTC observed POW/MIA Day by running from the state capitol to the MU

Iowa State University’s AFROTC members approaching the finish line of their 35 mile run honoring POW/MIA Day.

Omar Waheed

Following the annual proclamation for Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Day (POW/MIA Day), Iowa State’s Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC) ran from the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines to the Memorial Union on Friday.


Honoring those who died serving their country is a proud and important tradition for active-duty members. Starting at the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines and finishing in Ames, AFROTC ran 35 miles to honor and remember those no longer with their families.


“Carrying the flags and honoring our POWs means a lot, and getting the cadets involved so they understand the tradition of the flag and what that means… it’s just carrying on their names and recognition for them, their families and loved ones,” said Major J. Andrew Carper, assistant professor in aerospace studies. “We’re beat up, but it’s worth it, and we look at it as temporary pain for those families who have, you know, lifelong pain.”


The recognition of temporary pain is what motivates current cadets to keep running, with the remembrance of lives lost. 


“I mean, you always start out great but toward the end, you have to remember what you’re doing it for,” said Cadet Jarred Carr. “So obviously it’s gonna be painful, but I mean, we’re doing it for a greater cause.”


Carr is a junior majoring in industrial technology.


At the Memorial Union, Cadets were undergoing another tradition in which they guard a table made for POWs and those who are MIA.


Cadets Ryan Dorle, junior, Reid Coates, sophomore, and Juan Simons, junior, took shifts standing guard over the table set meant to honor those remembered on the day. Set with items all meant to symbolize something important, the table holds a great deal of importance.


After the intense run, the members of the AFROTC held a vigil to honor marine Corporal Daegan William-Tyler Page, who died in a suicide bombing at an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.


“We have one of 13 marines coming home. Today is his day to be laid to rest,” Carper said. “Understanding how there’s a little more today means a lot and, you know, kind of sets the tone for today.”


Following Friday’s events, another run took place Saturday. Also held by AFROTC, the 5K campus run collected donations for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to find POWs and those who are MIA and provide assistance to their families.


“The purpose of it is just to run in remembrance of our prisoners of war and missing in action,” said Cadet Thomas Ledet, senior in mechanical engineering.